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The Dartmouth
February 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Student Assembly candidates announce intent

This year's candidates for Student Assembly president and vice president submitted petitions on Friday that stated their intent to run in the election to be held on Monday, April 16. The number of candidates six for president and four for vice president is the most in recent memory.

The majority of the candidates said they hope to increase communication between the Assembly and the student body, as well as to make the Assembly more effective and relevant on campus.

The known candidates for president are Max Hunter '13, Suril Kantaria '13, Erin Klein '13, Elise Smith '13, J.T. Tanenbaum '13 and Rachel Wang '13. The candidates for vice president are Julia Danford '13, Troy Dildine '13, Sahil Joshi '13 and James Lee '13.

The Elections Planning and Advisory Committee has not officially announced the candidates, as their petitions are first handled internally and sent to the Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Office to determine eligibility, according to EPAC Chair Richard Stephenson '12.

Hunter, a modified theater major from Bedford, N.Y., said he will focus on conveying students' frustration with the administration.

"I would not be the administration's choice, but I hope to capture this voice of the students," he said.

Hunter said he believes that recent administrative actions reflect "a fundamental lack of understanding on how to approach basic issues," making it necessary to return to the "drawing board" on many recent decisions.

The student body needs to hear from College President Jim Yong Kim, rather than from Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson or Chairman of the Board of Trustees Steve Mandel '78, about important events, he said, citing Kim's decision to communicate with the student body in a timely manner about voting for the Aires in "The Sing-Off" but not about issues such as hazing.

Hunter does not have past experience with the Assembly.

Kantaria, a government and economics major from Glastonbury, Conn., said he intends to "revamp" the Assembly to more effectively address campus issues and convey student opinions.

In order to address "structural problems," Kantaria said he plans to create Assembly liaisons that "represent different student groups" at meetings.

He said he will enhance communication, accountability and transparency of the Assembly by providing a "drop-box" for student input and releasing detailed reports on Assembly activities. He also plans to introduce a forum between students and administrators, facilitated by an electronic tool through which students can post questions and concerns, he said.

Kantaria is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.

Klein, a health and human biology major from Park Ridge, Ill., said she wants to make the Assembly more effective at supporting student interests, which it is currently "failing" to do. In order to facilitate more effective leadership on campus, Klein said she hopes to design "leadership summits" that would bring together Greek, athletic and community leadership "to discuss focused issues."

She said she plans to bring campus leaders back to Hanover early at the beginning of the next academic year in order to work on "creating community standards and setting goals" for the year. Because the administration has failed to respond to many campus issues, there is a need for a grassroots effort to make student needs known, Klein said.

Klein was involved in the Assembly during her freshman year but stopped participating because she "wasn't impressed by the organization," she said.

Smith, a geography major from Chicago, seeks to use a presidential role to "rally" the College's sense of community, she said.

The Assembly needs to work with students and organizations more effectively, and this communication must come "from the bottom up," she said.

To implement such a structure, Smith said she plans to contact all communities at Dartmouth and demonstrate that the success of one group "betters us all."

Smith's commitment to the Assembly during her three years at the College distinguishes her from the other candidates, she said.

In addition to participating in the Assembly, Smith works in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, is on the Alumni Council and was the only student representative in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership's recent search for a new director.

Tanenbaum, a mathematics and social sciences major from outside of Albany, N.Y., said he believes the Assembly needs to divert attention away from itself and focus on student groups at Dartmouth.

He said his key goals are to "refine, refocus and reform," which can be accomplished by abolishing the "redundancies" of Assembly committees that address issues already covered by other groups on campus. He plans to send representatives from the Assembly to join existing groups and give them a "direct line of communication" with the Assembly, which can advocate on the behalf of these groups, he said.

Wang, an economics major from Madison, Wis., said she wants to "strengthen student voice, especially with the administration." She said she hopes to create a forum where student leaders can come together because the current Assembly committees sometimes "recreate the wheel" by seeking to choose leaders when they already exist and can be sought out, she said.

Wang also seeks to improve the transparency of the Assembly, possibly by holding office hours in "a public place like Novack," she said.

Wang served as a voting member of the Assembly during her freshman year and has since been involved in other student governing groups including the Council on Student Organizations and the Undergraduate Finance Committee.

Vice presidential candidate Danford, an English major from Rollinsford, N.H., said she is running with Kantaria in the upcoming election. Kantaria's experience in student government coupled with Danford's "fresh voice" maximizes their effectiveness, she said.

Danford said her experience as an undergraduate advisor has made her aware of campus issues and inspired her desire to face them.

Dildine, a neuroscience and government major from Tulare, Calif., said the Assembly currently lacks legitimacy.

"There are still a lot of students on campus that don't know a lot of the roles of what [the Assembly] does around campus and don't see it as being representative of the whole student body," he said.

In order to increase the diversity of the Assembly, Dildine intends to encourage representatives from each student organization to attend the meetings and grant them voting rights, he said.

Joshi, a government and economics major originally from Boston, learned about the "inner workings" of the Assembly during his time on the Assembly's Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee.

He said he hopes to use the "existing human capital and structural capital" of campus organizations to make the Assembly a "switchboard" for other groups on campus.

The Assembly needs to be more "proactive" and take an "action-based approach rather than a purely policy-based approach," Joshi said.

Lee, a government and geography major from Virginia, has been involved with the Assembly since his freshman fall. This involvement has given him "a better sense of the issues" and an understanding of the infrastructure of the Assembly, he said.

Lee said he wishes to bring a "community feel" to the Assembly that he said he believes it lost after his freshman year. He also hopes to leverage the Assembly's abilities to inform the administration about student needs given its "history of not being able to fully capitalize on its abilities," he said.

The candidates will participate in an Assembly-sponsored debate on Tuesday, debates on Wednesday and Thursday and another sponsored by The Dartmouth on Friday.

Lee is a former member of The Dartmouth Senior Staff.